We’re not your typical political activists – we work in advertising; what we do isn’t generally political – but we just got fed up. We felt like we had to do something. The world is going in a weird direction at the moment and we find ourselves disagreeing with what politicians are saying more and more each day. We just can’t relate to anything Theresa May says. We read Corbyn’s manifesto and it was clear that he just gets it. And the media’s tarnished representation of him left us feeling so frustrated. They make him out to be irrelevant and outdated when, really, his policies aren’t, especially not for the younger generation – abolishing university tuition fees; banning unpaid internships… Rebranding him felt like a way for people to focus less on him as a person and more on what he believes in and stands for. We borrowed from brands that millennials can’t help but notice (Supreme, Palace, Chicken Cottage…) and put them alongside his policies. The Corona, Palace and Tommy Hilfiger ones feel like the purest expression of our idea. And the Chicken Cottage one makes us laugh. Ultimately it doesn’t matter if, to quote Rants N Bants, he looks like a “divorced geography teacher”, what he’s saying is important. @corbynrebrand
We’re not interested in making partisan statements, but we do feel very politically engaged. And we’re always trying to make images that are critical of what’s happening, but also give the viewer the chance to think their own ideas. We’ve been working with a lot of end-of-reel newsprint, and the pink FT stocks and shares listings pages as a canvas: for us, those pages are like a map of control, both domestic and global. Using them is a way of highlighting the shocking contrast between corporate profit – in all its blank, inhuman banality – and the losses the general population experiences in their daily lives. Regardless of what happens, the FTSE 100 goes up – and this, despite the slew of humanitarian disasters that have affected the world. So we’ve been focusing on images of loss and governmental failure – jobcentre queues, refugees, protests against poverty and cuts and privatisation and the mess of the NHS, unions – juxtaposed with images of never-ending corporate profit. In my lifetime, the fortress of the elite has gained so much power, it’s staggering. As citizens we are much more locked in and controlled than we were in the 1970s – by virtue of different laws, such as the Criminal Justice Act, and the rise in policing powers. Unions have less power than they did then; just being able to speak out is so much harder. kennardphillipps.com; May Not opens at Dadiani Fine Art in London on 6 June.
I take photographs all the time, it’s my way of sketching. I suppose I’ve been looking for metaphors. My daughter’s sixth form, to whom I recently gave a lecture, are all following me [on Instagram]. And I feel like this is a way of showing them how I look at things, and also how politics can be porous, not necessarily didactic. I don’t want to be politically didactic, and my role is meant to be non-partisan – which is a good place to be. I have lots of different friends, and I think people should vote on a grassroots level, for whoever is working best for them. In my posts, I’m allowing my unconscious to lead me, and slowly patterns are emerging. The political abstracts seem to be following me around – a bit like Jerusalem syndrome, when devout Christians start to see symbols and images everywhere they look: a yellow square in the road, a blue bunch of flowers, a red watering can, a thin green line (of cable in the street); successive red, blue and yellow mists. I’ve also been finding floating or surrogate voters (stick figures in road signs and shop displays); things leaning in different directions (a right-sniffing dog, a left-facing dog and a centrist dog…); fragments of text from road markings or monumental inscriptions (“Here lies”, taken from a larger Lemn Sissay inscription in granite in Greenwich; “Wrong way” on a red road sign, “Way wrong” on a blue background, “May wrong” on a yellow background). I hope people get the humour, and the narrative with the photographs as a whole. It’s a different way of commentating, a bit like the political sketch writers. At one conference I was sitting between Robert Peston and Laura Kuenssberg, and I did think, “Shit, what am I doing here?” Or I’ll be standing with all the photographers with their big lenses, and I get out my iPhone. But I suppose that’s just it – I’m standing in for everyone. @electionartist2017
We’ve been in political apathy for about 20 years in this country, but since the last general election, things have changed. We’re talking about politics again. Two years ago it felt like posters – in the age of social media – were a bit twee, nostalgic even, and that using Instagram etc to get the message out would reach more people. But this time round it felt different. We know now that on social media we are only talking to people who already want to listen. The idea of making posters came to me when I was on a train to Brussels, reading about Grapus, a French design collective in the 1960s – something that could be put in public spaces where people who aren’t in the same bubble as me, who do not follow me or share my opinions, where they might actually see them. They’re not especially clever, but they are eye-catching, and they work well in repetition, especially the one with the eyes. They’re aimed at younger voters: I didn’t expect to have any traction with Tory voters. It was about getting people talking. They’re purposefully simple, cheap and easy to copy. I made them as PDFs to be downloaded and printed and photocopied. Putting them out there took me quite a while, though. I’m so not confrontational. I mean, the tone of the posters is fairly polite. But I reckon I will carry on. In recent times, people have defined themselves more by the coffee they drink than the culture they consume. But I think dinner parties are going to recede in importance, because we have to protect culture. You know, in the 70s and 80s you had The Young Ones and Spitting Image on telly. We don’t have anything like that any more – art and music, it’s all been self-referential for ages. That has to change. supermundane.com
I started getting interested in politics – and angry – around Brexit. I work two days a week in Liverpool, which voted remain; I live in a part of north Wales that also voted remain; I come up to London for work often, another remain stronghold, but Brexit happened. And I felt helpless. It does feel, in this country, like the wheels have come off a bit. These collages – I don’t think of them as my work, it’s more a kind of jokey lashing out, showing your bottom to the world. Clever artists are nuanced in the way they talk about Brexit, but I’m tired of nuance. It’s not just about disagreeing with politicians any more. Theresa May, Boris Johnson, David Davis … I don’t like these people. They’re like villains in a comic book. I don’t like the way they are manipulating people, playing with their lives. Boris offending a Sikh woman in a temple the other day? I thought the whole point of public school was to educate children in how to be polite and diplomatic. It’s a disgrace. I’m not a Labour supporter, but if some of the media can put Jeremy Corbyn on the cover and make fun of him, I can put some manky testicles on Boris Johnson’s head, or make May vomit. It’s my tiny fight back.
This election poem came out of a larger public art installation I did for Hammersmith and Fulham town hall, and which Adrian Burnham of Flying Leaps has made into a poster, along with kennardphillips’s Profit, Jeremy Deller’s Strong and Stable My Arse and others. It’s a hopeful, optimistic idea of what might happen at the end of June. I think it’s about time we had a love wave. There has been so much mean-spirited sentiment over Brexit, but I don’t think Brits are that mean. And we desperately need some kind of empathy and kindness. In my mind, modernity has been represented by libraries and public education, public health service – things that have transformed lives for the better. Things that we are now in danger of losing. I don’t think you can be really modern as an artist unless you engage with the politics and society of your time. I don’t just want to make complaining art; I want there to be a sense of hope, and in the end a belief in the idea of love and community. My work tends to be about lots of different things – the city, the dislocation of the self, information overload … This work though is a reminder for us to not lose sight of what’s valuable in our country. We’ve taken in so few refugees – a few thousand to Germany’s 800,000 – it’s morally embarrassing, and the thing is, I don’t think we’re that kind of country. And then politicians during the Brexit campaign blaming refugees for problems here, that was the worst. But instead of being angry, I wanted to do something that would help us recollect our thoughts, find ourselves again. robertmontgomery.org